If there’s one person in America actually happy about COVID-19, it may be Attorney General William Barr. Not that Barr, who is 69 and not exactly the poster child for physical fitness, has any personal immunity to the disease—though he is an avid bagpiper, so perhaps he has superhealthy lungs. But a life-threatening pandemic of infectious disease has taken complaints about Barr’s overt politicization of the Justice Department out of the headlines. Temporarily.
But on Friday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler issued a letter that reminds Barr that 2,000 of his peers just called for his resignation. While Nadler isn’t in a position to demand Barr’s walking papers, he is demanding a lot of other paperwork—including everything Barr has done to intervene in the Roger Stone case, the Michael Flynn case, and a whole series of politically motivated investigations into intelligence officials.
And oh, yeah—Nadler wants to talk with all four of the career prosecutors who quit the Stone case to protest Barr’s interference.
Those four prosecutors—Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed, Michael Marando, and Jonathan Kravis—top the list of officials Nadler has asked to appear before his committee. But it’s far from a complete list. Barr also wants to interview those involved in the Michael Flynn case, both the former members of Robert Mueller’s team who made the plea agreement with Flynn and wrote the initial sentencing proposal and the replacements whom Barr slipped in to massively weaken the language of the proceedings and suggest that Flynn deserves probation at most.
Nadler is also asking to speak with U.S. Attorney John Durham. Barr selected Durham to lead a supposed investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, even though that matter was already being examined by the DOJ inspector general. With the IG report now showing both a lack of crimes and a lack of political motivation, Durham’s investigation has continued. More than that, it has spiraled outward to absorb a flock of right-wing conspiracy theories. In support of those theories, Barr and Durham have traveled to Australia in an attempt to get intelligence agencies there to attack the CIA and visited Rome to see if Italian officials would finger a London professor with Russian connections as a deep-cover plant from the United States. All of this is predicated on the idea that the intelligence community was laying a trap for Donald Trump even before he announced his intention to run for president.
Nadler would also like to hear from U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue, whom Barr positioned to give Trump the unjustified investigation into Joe Biden and Hunter Biden that he was unable to extort from Ukrainian officials.
Barr is scheduled to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on March 31, and has said he will appear at that hearing. However, it’s unlikely that Barr or Trump will give his blessing to testimony from anyone else either before or after that date. Nadler has given Barr until March 13 to respond.
Also, if the idea of William Barr ripping up the Justice Department to give Trump his very own secret police wasn’t frightening enough, you now have the image of Barr … playing a bagpipe. There’s bad, and then there’s genuine evil.